Israel Confirms Possession of DU Ammunition

Friday, Jan 12, 2001

On January 11, 2001, a front-page story in Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, quoted Israeli army officials who confirmed, that Israel possesses DU ammunition, similar to the NATO ammunition that was used in the former Yugoslavia. According to reporters Tsadok Yechezkeli and Anat Tal-Shir, the DU ammunition was taken out of service one year ago and is no longer used by the IDF. The remainder of the DU ammunition is in storage in IDF warehouses, in questionable safety conditions.

The confirmation came only three days after the IDF issued an official announcement, in which it was stated, that "depleted uranium missiles were never used by the IDF". Soldiers and officers who served in the Israeli navy were reported as being "amazed" at the army's denial, and told the reporters that they had handled DU ammunition for years.

The chairperson of the Israeli Green Party, Pe'er Weisner, whose party was the first organization to warn against the dangers of Israel's DU ammunition, said that IDF soldiers were exposed on a daily basis to extreme danger due to handling DU materials. He called for establishing an independent organization to supervise environmental safety in the IDF. Weisner warned that IDF soldiers could soon be found to suffer from cancer as the result of faulty safety procedures in the army. A soldier who served on an Israeli missile ship said that when the ship was overcrowded, soldiers slept in rooms in which the DU missiles were stored.

The Yediot report also stated that the first time that Israel used DU missiles was in 1985, when an Israeli navy ship fired at a "large terrorist boat" 160 kilometers from its shore.

The former Chief Medical Officer of the Israeli Navy, Prof. Yosef Ribak, is quoted as saying: "The whole storm that evolved in Europe is a type of public panic. People mistakenly think that these are atomic missiles... The radioactive pollution is insignificant."

Yediot Aharonot's website:

Rayna Moss